The United Nations: “A Voice for All of Us”
Reflection by Nicki Amouri, 2012-2013 Global Ministries intern at the UN and student at Union Theological Seminary
As a Masters of Divinity student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, I am required to do one year’s worth of field education. The purpose of this year is to gain experience in one area or multiple areas of professional interest. In my case, my field education serves multiple professional interests. My internship this year consists of a partnership between the United Nations and Park Avenue Christian Church in the city of New York. As the Global Ministries intern with the United Nations, I am also able to serve and report back to my joint UCC and Disciples of Christ congregation at Park Avenue Christian Church.
One of the great things about being a student at Union Theological Seminary and working with Park Avenue Christian Church and the UN is the similarity in mission and values. Union looks for students who are actively engaged and care about issues of social and economic justice. Union’s mission statement is “Union graduates will practice their vocations with dedication to the mission of the churches and leadership in the academy and society, ever seeking to bring a religious and moral voice to discussions of major social and political issues.” One of the most influential programs on Union’s campus is the Poverty Initiative. The goal of the Poverty Initiative is to focus specifically on the religious response to poverty.
I come to the UN not just as a student exposed to influential programs such as the Poverty Initiative, but also as someone who has worked in a non-profit organization addressing poverty-related issues. My two years with Habitat for Humanity as an AmeriCorps volunteer made me vividly aware of the need for affordable housing. Among the many things I learned while at Habitat, I saw the impact that faith-based groups and organizations can have in working toward a cause and fighting for justice.
I also come to the UN with a passion for women’s rights. In early September, I attended my first UN meeting with the Ecumenical Women working group. The working group is made up of a coalition of church denominations and ecumenical organizations who all agree to a similar mission and values. Every year, Ecumenical Women holds a Commission on the Status of Women. The theme for the 57th CSW that will take place this March 2013 will be, “The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.” My hope in being a part of the Ecumenical Women working group is to get a deeper look into how important issues, such as violence against women (the concern of the 57th CSW), is being handled and addressed by denominations and other religious institutions.
The Ecumenical Women working group is just one testament to how faith groups come together at the UN united in mission. Here, one finds a unified affirmation of human rights. The work of faith groups is extremely powerful. Their continued support at the UN will mean more of a voice for all of us regarding issues surrounding poverty, women, peace and security, environmental sustainability, and the protection of human rights around the world.